Test D850 Vs D800e Head to head comparison lens test shoot

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Feb 2, 2005
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Andreas Berglund
Like many I’m wondering when/if I will upgrade from my D800e to a D850.

One of the classic questions that is always asked is if my lenses will keep up with the new generation cameras increased resolution.

So me and my friend and fellow café member Rory Hill set out to do a fairly simple test with a bunch of our lenses to find this out.

The testing scenario was as follows. We shot in Rory’s basement on a tripod target that was his book case, in manual, at F5.6 using live view for focusing, the D850 was set at ISO 64 and the D800e at ISO 100. Consequently we had to increase the exposure of the D850 images with about 1/4rd of a stop or so to equalize so I guess in hindsight, one should have used the same ISO setting. We concluded that this didn’t really matter for this test. All we are interested is how much the lenses resolve using the two different cameras. The zoom lenses images where shot in several focal lengths that where common for the lenses: 16mm, 24mm, 35mm, 70mm, 120mm, 300mm. And the primes where (obviously) shot using only the prime focal length. So for example the 24-70 lens was shot in 24, 35 and 70mm at F5.6.

The lenses we tested where:
Nikon, 16-35 F4 VR, 24-70 F2.8 (non vr version), 24-120mm F4 VR, 28-300mm VR, 60mm AF-S G Micro, 24mm F2.8 AIS and my favorite old 5.8cm (58mm) F1.4 AI’d lens from the vintage year of 1960 (!) and finally the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens.

It turned out that the 60mm is a bit out of alignment sharp in the center and in the right top corner but soft in the left corner, so let’s discard the test with that lens, it did however react like all the other lenses when shot with both cameras and compared. Also in two of D800e live view focused images the focus is ever so slightly off so one has to account for that user error, and approximate.

Since we were using Lightroom and it didn’t have support for the D850 RAWs at the time, all images where converted to DNG RAW format, so that we could use the nifty comparison tool in Lightroom to compare images from corner to corner.

Our conclusions

1. All lenses behaved exactly the same when shot with both cameras, and all images could handle the increased resolution from the D800e to the D850. ALL of them. There was no visible degradation in sharpness when using the lenses on the D850. That said some of them weren’t great to start with, the old 24mm F2.8 AIS and 28-300mm (at 28mm for example, but its real sharp at 300mm), they still resolved more when being used on the D850, but had the same flaws as when they were mounted on the D800e.

2. The sharpest lens from corner to corner was undoubtedly the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art. Hands down, amazing lens.

3. The 24-70 F2.8 and 24-120mm F4 are for all purposes identical in center and corners sharpness at F5.6 and VR Off. (When I saw the results of DP Reviews test shots with the D850 using the 24-120 F4 VR I was shocked how soft the corners are on those shots. That is not the case with my copy of the 24-120mm, I have known this since I sold my 24-70, from F5.6 to F8 they were for all purposes identical. So there is sample difference between the different 24-120mm F4 lenses.)

4. Just because its old doesn’t mean that it can’t keep up with the D850, actually the old Nikkor 5.8cm F1.4 easily held its own, really sharp in the center and just a little soft in the corners but hey – it’s not bad for a lens from 1960! Message: don’t be afraid to use great older lenses on the D850! I wish I still had my Noct 58mm F1.2 AIS, I bet it would be spectacular with the D850!

My final conclusion: Great lenses will take great images when used on the D850, but all lenses we tried took images with more detail using the D850, a linear increase in resolution power.

As per Tonys request:
I have posted the jpg's of these images on my pbase account. make sure you click on original size below if you want to right click and download the images. I will let it it up there for a couple of weeks, before I take them down out of space consideration. Here are two comparisons:
1. 24-120mm at 24mm
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2. 5.8cm AI'd, note that this is of course manual focus in live view, so it can be just a tiny bit off, it is not easy to do
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Joined
Mar 13, 2013
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vancouver, canada
great series of tests. Thanks for sharing the results with us. Glad to see old lenses doing well on the new body. Your results with the 24-120 agree with mine, there is sample variation with this lens. Like yours mine has sharp corners.

Cheers,
alexis and Georgie Beagle

"if you used a Quantum Mechanics textbook the results probably would have been better..." -Georgie Beagle
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2013
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EC
Andréas & Rory many thanks for taking the time and trouble to perform these tests and then generously sharing the results including the JPEG files on Pbase too very useful.
Whilst it's useful to see the various posts by the 'great and the good' folks favored by Nikon with pre-release D850 cameras it's great to see the results from folks like you two when we can see your other work and thus better know the basis of such comparisons.

The only question I have is fancy swapsies on the 24-120/4 lens? j/k It's good to know there are sample variations I may try and exchange mine if Nikon service don't manage to help enough with adjustments as it's a super walk around lens and as NASA uses at least one on the ISS they must feel it's not bad either :)
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
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Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
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Andreas Berglund
Thank you, as for the 24-120 mine is sharp until 80 85 percent then it start degrading a little bit, but not that much, you can see it in the jpg images, let me know if you need more help determining if yours is ok

Andréas & Rory many thanks for taking the time and trouble to perform these tests and then generously sharing the results including the JPEG files on Pbase too very useful.
Whilst it's useful to see the various posts by the 'great and the good' folks favored by Nikon with pre-release D850 cameras it's great to see the results from folks like you two when we can see your other work and thus better know the basis of such comparisons.

The only question I have is fancy swapsies on the 24-120/4 lens? j/k It's good to know there are sample variations I may try and exchange mine if Nikon service don't manage to help enough with adjustments as it's a super walk around lens and as NASA uses at least one on the ISS they must feel it's not bad either :)
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
7,986
Location
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
Maybe the results would have been hard to read? I hear Quantum encryption is practically unbreakable? Says Schnookli the Cavalier.....

great series of tests. Thanks for sharing the results with us. Glad to see old lenses doing well on the new body. Your results with the 24-120 agree with mine, there is sample variation with this lens. Like yours mine has sharp corners.

Cheers,
alexis and Georgie Beagle

"if you used a Quantum Mechanics textbook the results probably would have been better..." -Georgie Beagle
 

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